Better Ski Technique - Back To
By Simon Dewhurst
This is the first of five articles taking you back to where
you started from. They involve the five basic skiing turns,
namely the snowplough (also known as the stem or wedge), the
stem turn, the stem christie and the christie (or parallel turn).
Whereever you happen to be in the turning heirachy, they are
a very helpful way of learning what you are actually doing on
Do you remember what it was like the first time you put skis
on? Can you remember the first few days of bruises, excitement,
and the thrill of uncontrolled speed? I have tried to remember
how our ski instructor got us going but without much luck. I
remember his name, and how much he drank at lunchtime, and that
he had a very red face in the afternoons, but not much else.
If you started a long time ago you probably won’t remember
a great deal either, so prepare for reversion therapy!
If you started only a short time ago then all this will be instantly
familiar, but still very useful. It is intended as revision
so that you can revert to practising it, and thinking about
how it works. This will be quite easy as you should have no
longer have any restrictive influences such as fear, or badly
fitting boots (like you did when you started).
These articles are not for a beginner to use as a ski instruction
manual prior to skiing for the first time, as nothing can do
the early learning process justice except to go out onto the
slopes and experience the pleasure, terror, and mere sensation
of gliding over snow on a first skiing holiday. I will be mentioning
in a future article the very basic guidelines for teaching,
so if there is good reason to teach a friend, and it should
be a very good reason, then have a look at it when it arrives.
You really must practise these basic techniques yourself; they
will not take a long time to get through - perhaps you can run
through some of them in an idle moment waiting for your friends
at the bottom of the gondola. They will definitely give you
an insight into where your weight is over the skis, what you
are doing to steer them, and how you are unweighting them before
a turn - useful things to store away for later.
With the end of this introduction to reversion therapy, I'll
just mention the build up to the snowplough/wedge position and
what it involves:
Putting the skis on. Walking around on the flat to feel the
skis. Running straight down on the gentlest slope to a natural
stop for perhaps 20 metres. Side stepping with small steps to
get back up the hill (going a little higher each time). Running
straight down again taking step turns to change direction. These
exercises should be done without poles.
The Braking Snowplough (Stem or Wedge) involves getting into
the snowplough position with the help of the poles. Alternatively,
the ski instructor, running backwards, may hold the tips of
the skis to start with. This exercise allows the skier to slide
down the slope alternating between braking snowploughs, and
straight running, which he does by bringing his heels back together
and then pushing them out again. Poles can be held, but the
arms should be down by the skier's side, nice and relaxed. The
knees should be slightly bent.